Know! The Teen Dating Bill of Rights

Know! The Teen Dating Bill of Rights

Does your son or daughter know what to expect from a “dating” partner? Have you discussed with your child the characteristics of a healthy dating relationship?

While it is easy to make light of adolescent boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, it may be a risky notion; as statistics show that one in three teens experience an abusive dating relationship prior to high school graduation.

Though the conversation may feel a bit premature for parents with preteens, Know! that the timing is just right. The earlier a child learns what it means to be in a healthy dating relationship, the better off he/she will be in both the short and long term. At the same time, older teens, even those who have begun dating, can greatly benefit from this talk with you.
To get this critical conversation started, try sharing and reviewing the Teen Dating Bill of Rights and Pledge (adapted from LoveIsRespect.org) together, then ask your child to consider signing off on it.

I have the right:

  • To always be treated with respect (which also means being treated as an equal);
  • To be in a healthy relationship (based on honesty, trust and communication - not control, manipulation or jealousy);
  • To not be hurt physically or emotionally (you should feel safe in your relationship at all times and know that abuse is never your fault, nor is it ever ‘deserved’);
  • To not be pressured to go further than I want to go (this will likely mean different things to different age groups – for younger adolescents, the pressure may be to kiss when they do not want to, for older adolescents, the pressure may be to have sex when they do not want to – regardless of age, in a healthy relationship, a partner will not pressure to go further than you want to go);
  • To have friends and activities apart from my boyfriend or girlfriend (spending time by yourself, with male or female friends, or with family is normal and healthy).
  • To end a relationship (without being harassed, threatened or made to feel guilty).

I pledge to:

  • Always treat my boyfriend or girlfriend with respect;
  • Resolve conflicts in a peaceful, rational way;
  • Never hurt my boyfriend or girlfriend physically, verbally, or emotionally;
  • Respect my girlfriend's or boyfriend's decisions concerning sex and affection;
  • Not be controlling or manipulative in my relationship;
  • Accept responsibility for myself and my actions.

Youth Signature: _______________________________________Date: ___________

Encourage your child to keep this signed copy somewhere he/she can easily reference it and often be reminded the characteristics of a healthy relationship.

This is also a great opportunity to remind children that you are open and available to discuss all subjects with them, even when the topic feels a little uncomfortable, like this one.

For more tips and information on teen dating, visit www.loveisrespect.org.

Sources: LoveIsRespect.org, DoSomething.org.